Joel Embiid lost 20 pounds after playoff loss to Raptors haunted him into shape
Joel Embiid was seen emotionally reacting to a devastating Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, one that included one of the NBA’s most throat-gripping finishes with a four-bounce corner shot by Kawhi Leonard that ended the Philadelphia 76ers’ season. That painful loss haunted Embiid into thinking what else he could have done to change that outcome, resulting in him losing 20 pounds over the summer:
“I just remember thinking I let my team down,” Embiid told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “You can’t control sickness or when it’s going to happen. Obviously my knee was bothering me the whole second half of the season and the playoffs. But all I was thinking was what can I do make sure I don’t let my teammates down again or my team. Or the whole city basically. That was to take better of my body. To work on the stuff I never really paid attention to, and it’s been going well the whole summer.”
Embiid posted a career-best 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game during the regular season, but he had his fair share of injuries — the most nagging one being knee tendinitis, which forced him to miss 12 games after the All-Star break. The injury greatly limited him against the Raptors, as he averaged a mere 17.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game:
“I’m competitive. I think everybody knows about me. I like to compete. I want to win,” said Embiid. “My production has got to go up in the playoffs instead of going down. That’s why I feel like I let them down. We had a great chance of winning the whole thing. If that shot [by Leonard] hadn’t gone down, you don’t know what was going to happen.”
A more limber Embiid will be putting a lot less strain on that knee, and while the Sixers plan to put him on a load management program, his health could now be in tip-top shape by the time the playoffs start if it all goes according to plan.